We were summoned to the council, which had been deliberating for some time. There was a great deal of discussion on how to break into Walker’s Abbey, considering the plans for the floors showed a great deal of security, and especially those doors!
Also, there seems to be no emergency exit. Instead, they expected that any of the Abbey’s inhabitants should barricade themselves in, and wait for rescue, which means that now the rebels or whatever they are can barricade themselves in and wait forever, dining on the mushrooms and quite a supply of flatgoat. And there is supposedly no alternative whatsoever to that. We also concluded that charging in and putting jacks under the blocks will not work as the security blocks will get lowered before jacks can be put in place.
We were sent out again as they held further discussions, and Denerik came tagging along with us. She was quite upset, and questioned us incessantly about the dwarves we had seen, and had we noticed a particular braid on any beards or a ring… We were quite sorry not to be able to either help or reassure her. To try and elicit a smile from her, we headed to the smithy (and to see her kin there) and were greeted by the news that Roderick was ready! He’s shiny and sharp and highly improved – and barking to tell everyone about it.
Then we got word to head back to the Council, as they had reached a decision: for now they’re going to block the passageway and set up fortifications to make sure no-one comes up from the abbey.
Master Abbott looked sternly at us, and told us that we had done quite enough, and it was time for us to leave. But we couldn’t help but notice that his beard-stroking seemed to indicate that something was up. So we agreed to leave, after re-stocking up on flat hack goat gag and other essentials. Al also asked around about her nemeses Lady Floriane, and Argenias Lat, but apart from “oh, they might have come through at some time”, there was nothing more to be added to what we knew already. The chances are extremely high that the information we seek is down in the Abbey. Dammit.
Al considered purchasing a new Magic Missile wand, but as she can now fire those off at a great rate herself, she thought there was really no need. I suggested that, from now on, when she wanted to use her “Sleep” spell she should attract the enemy’s attention then I sneak up behind and whack them on the head.
Correct key for the song of the trapped dwarves? A Flat Minor. (Blame the DM)
After we left city limits – Denerik suggested we go surveying with her. I of course would welcome the chance to expand my engineering knowledge, so instead of back along the road with the chalk-dust-trebuchets, we turned right and went tramping along the side of the mountain. Most of the snow was melted, and it was quite nice out there. Fresh. Sunny. No lingering odour of farted flatgoat.
As we went, Denerik told us some of the history of the area. Over on eastern flank, about 10 years before, there had been an infestation of hobgoblins, so the Dwarves had brought some barrels of blasting powder, and blew the goblins caves into smithereens.
Also, the Abbey below had been having hobgoblin trouble around the same time, but that had strangely stopped at the same time the tunnels were blown up.
Far be it for me to insist that correlation always equals causation. Sometimes, though, it’s at least worth checking for any possible connection between events occurring at the same time.
We stopped for our meal, and I offered Denerik some of my field rations which she accepted gratefully She also confessed that not every Dwarf is mad keen on Flatgoat.
Then she mentioned a small matter. It seems that the Abbey has upper and lower mushroom fields, and they haven’t used the upper ones for some time, so the Council may not have remembered this. She also said, very sternly, that if we should happen across any information of interest, it would be appropriate to report it afterwards. Right. So the Master Abbott did remember, and that’s why we’re here. Got it.
We finally came to the last guard tower before the old hobgoblin’s area. A gruff, friendly dwarf was happy for us to leave our mounts there while we investigated, and even lent us a few digging tools. I recognised his type right away, and just braced myself for the inevitable bad pun. And then, as expected:
“Take your pick!”
I would hate to hear what Dwarvish Dad jokes are like.
And finally, I asked Al what I’d been wanting to ask for some time.
“Al, you know how I basically saved your bacon by throwing you off the bridge?”
(Very dubiously) “Yes…..?”“What does the donkey want to be called?”
I could see her struggling with her conscience with this, then finally…
“He doesn’t care – just cares about whoever feeds him!”
I consider the debt wiped.
(And an afterthought. Was Al struggling with her conscience, or just struggling not to laugh?)
(Further thought – must have been laughter. I’m pretty sure Al doesn’t have a conscience.)
We stopped and surveyed the area. An area that looks like it’s been blown up.
Al noticed that there’s quite a hole among the cracks and all. It looked recently disturbed, and Denerik commented that the hole wasn’t there 5 years before.
For some reason, Maul wished she had a banana for scale. Weirdo.
Denerik reckoned she didn’t know if this leads to the monastery or not. But she longed to accompany us, and as she carries a shortbow and is quite tough, we agreed.
When we got close, I tied a rope around my waist, and Mel held it while I went to the edge to look. There was a scree slope, badly damaged, leading down to a crack at the bottom. It’s possible something heavy broke through, or as Mel and Al thought, something fell through. Possibly a trebuchet round. A really big one. Huge, in fact. I slipped a little but was able to look right down. The hole goes down about 60 foot, through damaged caves, and then stops at the bottom layer. I headed back to the others, to explain this.
Then we heard a groaning noise. Maul sent a summoned eagle down to reconnoitre, but it didn’t come back. We watched to see if anything else came out – I suggested there might be a poor starving dwarf down there, who grabbed the eagle for a meal.
Next, we set up signals for the rope, and Al invisibled me.
“Pull” means pull me back. “Help” means come help me. Nothing and slack means “oh fuck come and get me.”
Al Mage Armoured up and Maul Blessed us.
Silence is definitely golden. I made my way right down to the bottom of the cave, the rope appearing oddly ten feet behind me as it exited Al’s magical invisibility aura. As I got to the bottom, I spot a pile of hobgoblins, most pointing their bows at the rope which even made them suspicious, while one at the back was standing over a prone giant. But with great luck, they didn’t spot me, so I decide to head back up, and let the others know. And next time to decide on a bunch of silent signals as well, dammit.
I made it back safely, and we held a short discussion, Al’s eyes lit up with the possibility of bright flames and burning fire,. We decide to light up a stone, and chuck it down there, so we’d have light to see all the goblins and the giant by, although we were a bit worried about the giant. Denerki then remembered there used to be a nice giant who kept the trolls away, by the name of Gragnog. Well, we can only hope.
Denerik then remembered an old Elvish tale she’d heard about a fighter who slid down a slope on his shield. She suggested we slide down – Mel on her shield, with Al on her back, flaming sphere at the ready. For a moment there, Denerik and Al could almost have been related, so similar was the look of hatred in their eyes.
Brilliant idea though. Maul felt she was the clumsiest, so borrowed the Ring of Feather Fall to ward off any serious injury. I made sure all my flasks were safely tucked away, and down we went.
OW! Whose bloody idea was this? I skidded around the edges, banged into a couple of rocks, as did Al. Poor Mel on the shield skidded from side to side, hitting every rock on the way and planted face-first on a really sharp rock. I think she lost a tooth in the process, and a smear of blood across the floor as she skidded.
“Hey – we haven’t killed anyone in cold blood for ages!”
“The wights were cold blooded – but I suppose they didn’t count.”
I grabbed my bow and shot a hobgoblin, who instead decided to go for Mel. However, in his anger, he only managed to bounce off her armour. Al had a mucking great ball of fire ready, which went onto that same one, and toasted him good and proper.
“Hey Al! Teamwork! High five!”
“You mean ‘Low Five’!”
snickers all around
Denerik chopped at one, but it got her first. Maul also ended up face down, but Nimbus must have her holy eye on her in the process and no goblins hit her as she came to her feet.
Another swung at Mel just as she ducked to get her shield, and the others flailed uselessly, luckily for us. Then I noticed that one, right beside the giant, looked bigger and nastier than the others and was moving up to the giant and yelling at it as he went.
And then the big dude went for Mel.
That’s it. No more Mr Nice Guy.
A couple went for Maul as she tried to get up, and for once, they hit. But as they were recovering from the swings, she threw her fart spell set up a wall of mist. Which really wasn’t a great idea – there was I all ready to come and rescue Mel, and now I had no idea where she was. I did know one location though, perfectly.
I headed into the mist, stowing my bow and pulling out my dagger. Al threw a swarm in the other direction, while Denerik concentrated on the hated foe in front of her, who was really feeling her burn. That dwarf is wasted anywhere but in combat!
Maul was copping a beating from the dude beside her, but Mel was able to swing while grabbing her shield. Her recently-developed blindfighting skill meant that a goblin yelled something obscene, and Roderick barked very loudly.
Then Maul yelled, and Mel yelped and Mel yelled again. There was a scream from Maul that sounded like WITNESS ME and a rather nasty THUNK.
I made my very slow way south, dagger at the ready, past Al’s glowy ball of doom. There were thunks as Denerik took her foe down, and squeaks as if a hundred rats had been let loose. More thumping, grunting and axes hitting the ground.
Maul and Denerik went for the one between them, and swung but missed.
I came up to the giant, who looked rather badly damaged, patted his arm and said “I’ll bring my friends as soon as I can to help you.” I think he understood me. There were more squeaking noises, and yells that I think were the goblin equivalent of “GEROFF ME YOU BASTARDS”. Mel caught a gap in the mist, saw the boss hobgoblin and swung at him hard.
Maul: “I’ve got a feeling”
The giant spoke in very simple common speech, but there’s no mistaking “Goblins mean! Get me out of here!” I told him we were there to help him, and gave him a bit of cram. Poor Denerik, who had been set upon by rats, managed to get away from them while Mel further set upon the boss and took him down! Roderick’s barking made her an easy target, and two went after Mel, but they didn’t get there. We really need to teach him “Shhhh”.
Then I felt my way past the giant, and ran into a hobgoblin, who I stabbed. Only a little damage, but I hope it did some good. Or bad. Or something. The squeaking continued, as did the cursing by Denerik and some similarly ugly words by a goblin. Then cursing by Maul, along with “Oh no! Not again!”
Another hobgoblin near me staggered, obviously dazed, and I heard a welcome barking from just through the mist, along with “TARGET RICH ENVIRONMENT” in Mel’s lovely voice. One swung at me, but the Butt Dance of Doom meant he missed me. Gotta love that. Apparently Maul came crashing out of the mist, took one look at Al, and ran behind her, yelling GET THEM OFF! It seems her own rats had developed quite a taste for any flesh, including hers. I could hear the poor giant begging for food and help for his leg, as I took another really good swipe at the guy in front of me.
The rats around Maul and Al decided both of them were food, and I believe Al’s opinion of Maul was not improved by this. Al moved out of the swarm, but then Denerik came out of the mist and straight into the rats. Mel swung at the better-off of the two hobgoblins near us, and cleft him in twain.
Maul extracted herself from the rats, and threw a quick heal up, yelling “OW! Al? Why does it hurt?” Honestly. It’s not like she hasn’t been hit before.
I stuck my dagger into the guy one more time, not as well as before but I still drew blood. The rats went for Denerik one more time, then vanished.
Then Roderick flashed in front of me as Mel took on the last guy – who dropped in between us! I made my way back to the giant, and patted his hand as I gave him another piece of cram.
Yells of “Is everyone OK?” “I’m hurt” “Hurting!” (That from the giant).
“What’s your name?”
Mel: “That’s a lovely name!”
Gr: “My mum gave me that one.”
We talked with Gragnog, who had fallen down the hole and hurt his leg. The hobgoblins were refusing to feed him unless he did what they asked. His leg appeared to be broken, although it’s started healing. I gently felt down, and the toes seemed to be warm. I knew that he needed to rest and heal, and he’d be fine in a couple of weeks, but he needed food and water, and would need help getting out of the hole when he was ready.
Then he asked “You want to go where rock trolls are?” pointing down hole.
Oh. Dear. Rock trolls before we get to the dwarves. Great.
The goblins had nothing but a few coppers and lots of fleas. The big ugly one had nothing better. We cleared a space, tried to de-flea it, and bedded down for the night.